Arboretums are fickle places to visit. They can be very interesting, or very boring, depending on the upkeep, the flowers, and what’s in season at the moment. I’m glad to say that I’ve been treated to several arboretums that were excellently kept up and had beautiful flowers in season when I visited. One was Kent Park Arboretum, in Webster, NY; another was the Willowwood Arboretum in Morris County, NJ. The latter is the subject of this post. When I visited in late May, there were many flowers in bloom, and it looked like there would be a lot more later in the season, as well. (The flowers are later than usual this year due to a cool spring.) I had a lovely time wondering the gardens, which included lilacs, beautiful wisteria, a bamboo forest, a Mediterranean garden, and more trees and plants with identification tags than I could possibly look at. There are also options for hiking trails (forested) nearby, so you could get the best of both worlds in one place!
The Willowwood Arboretum trail begins by walking toward the buildings. Weddings are often held here on summer weekends, so be considerate. The first thing that caught my eye was a lovely arbor covered in wisteria. We don’t have a lot of that up where I live, so it was very cool to see.
Nearby was a “crane flower” (also known as a bird of paradise).
We continued to wander the gardens, seeing an old pump…
…but turned left fairly quickly to go see the lilac bushes.
From here, we sort of got on a more rustic trail which led to trees more than flowers, although there were enough flowering trees and flower bushes to keep us happily identifying trees by the tags for a while. One flowering tree had dropped its petals on a pine / fern-like plant, which made it look like the plant produced pretty pink flowers!
Nearby was a flowering bush with deep pink flowers.
We kept walking along the various mowed trails, past some Adirondack chairs. You can’t fault the arboretum on its benches and other seats; they seem to be just about everywhere!
We finally strolled back toward the main gardens, and I stumbled into the Rosarie Garden, perhaps better described as the Mediterranean Garden. A fountain in a huge urn was the centerpiece (the urns also seem to be everywhere), but the plants were also interesting.
I then wandered into the Pan Garden, also known as the White Garden because all the flowers are white. This is near the back porch of the house.
By this point, I’d gotten completely separated from the rest of my group, so I thought I’d try and follow them by going down some steps toward a more forested part of the gardens, away from the house and toward the Japanese section of the gardens. This turned out to be my favorite section in the arboretum – the photo opportunities were almost endless, and it was just a cool area!
The trail crossed some stones in a lush area…
…then came to a stone bridge over a little stream.
Just after the stream, the bamboo forest appeared on the left.
After this, the trail winds its way to the road. Going left takes you to private property, so you’ll probably want to turn right, go to the house, and then turn left into the Cottage Garden. The ironwork was my favorite part of this garden.
There’s only one more little thing to see – a kind of greenhouse attached to the house. Go along the left side of the house and you’ll find a small addition with plants inside. If the door is open, as it was the day we visited, you can go inside and see a variety of exotic plants and a small fountain with fish in it (the fountain wasn’t running when I saw it, though).
If you’re interested in hiking, you’ll have to go back out the parking area and walk back up the road a short ways to Patriots Path, which will take you over in the Bamboo Brook Natural Area (and I don’t know how the creek got its name!)
The bottom line is that I found the Willowwood Arboretum well worth visiting. The grounds were immaculately kept, and the variety of plants and flowers kept us occupied all morning long!
Round trip trail length: We walked 1.25 miles (2 km); this could be shortened or lengthened
Elevation Change: Negligible. Maybe 50 ft. (15 m)
Facilities: Restrooms in the Shingle Barn near the parking area.
Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this?
Key GPS Coordinates for the Willowwood Arboretum
Parking area: 40.72530N / 074.69933W (40° 43′ 31.0794″ / 74° 41′ 57.588″) (304 ft.; 92 m)
Mediterranean Garden: 40.72557N / 074.69917W (40° 43′ 32.0514″ / 74° 41′ 57.0114″) (359 ft.; 109 m)
Pan Garden: 40.72657N / 074.69865W (40° 43′ 35.652″ / 74° 41′ 55.14″) (340 ft.; 103 m)
Tubbs Residence – Porch: 40.72654N / 074.69862W (40° 43′ 35.5434″ / 74° 41′ 55.032″) (341 ft.; 104 m)
Japanese Garden: 40.72676N / 074.69839W (40° 43′ 36.3354″ / 74° 41′ 54.204″) (336 ft.; 102 m)
Stone bridge: 40.72676N / 074.69823W (40° 43′ 36.3354″ / 74° 41′ 53.6274″) (342 ft.; 104 m)
Cottage Garden: 40.72600N / 074.69861W (40° 43′ 33.5994″ / 74° 41′ 54.996″) (351 ft.; 107 m)
The gpx file for the Willowwood Arboretum can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when walking around. Also realize that I did several circles, so you may not want to follow this to a T 🙂
Download GPX File size: 41.4 KB Downloaded 12 times
(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website. Thanks!)
Getting to the Willowwood Arboretum
From Chester, NJ, drive south on US-206 for almost 7 miles to Pottersville Road (there is a stoplight here). Turn right onto Pottersville Road and drive approximately 0.5 miles to Lisk Hill Road. Drive another 0.1 miles to a T intersection and turn right. Continue 0.3 miles to a Y intersection and turn left onto Longview Road. If you’re not from NJ, by now you’ll probably be scratching your head and wondering why these roads aren’t one-way and are actually real roads. Don’t worry. This is just a lesser-known part of New Jersey. Keep driving on Longview Road for 0.5 miles, then turn left at the entrance to the Willowwood Arboretum. Be forewarned that the entrance road is graded gravel and a very rough cattle guard is at the beginning of the road. It’s certainly accessible, though, as some of us were driving in a Camry and were ok (just take it slow).
If you’re coming from I-287, take Exit 22 (that’s Exit 22 if coming from the north and Exit 22B if coming from the south) onto US-206 North. Drive almost 7 miles to Pottersville Road; turn left and follow the directions above to the Arboretum.
If you’re coming from I-80, take Exit 27A to US-206 South; drive almost 8 miles to the middle of Chester, then follow the directions above to the Arboretum.
This Week’s Featured Product!
If you need hikes in New Jersey, this is a pretty good guide. I’ve used it many times to look for new places to hike while visiting relatives in NJ, and have found some very nice hikes in it. The maps are helpful, too.
Sun Feb 18
Sunny. High 42F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.
Mon Feb 19
Chance of Rain
Partly cloudy early followed by increasing clouds with showers developing later in the day. High near 45F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Tue Feb 20
Morning fog, then cloudy in the afternoon. Record high temperatures expected. High 64F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.
Wed Feb 21
Cloudy skies early will become partly cloudy later in the day. Record high temperatures expected. High 69F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.
Thu Feb 22
A steady rain in the morning. Showers continuing in the afternoon. High 43F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Rainfall around a quarter of an inch.